Step 16: Volatile variables
Volatile variables are variables that can change during time, even if the program that is running does not modify them. Just like Arduino registers that can change value for some external interventions.
Why does the compiler want to know about such variables? That is because the compiler always tries to optimize the code that we write, to make it faster, and it modifies it a little bit, trying not to change its meaning. If a variable changes by its own it could seem to the compiler that it is never modified during execution of, say, a loop and it could ignore it; while it could be crucial that the variable changes its value. So declaring volatile variables it prevents the compiler to modify the code concerning those.
For some more information I suggest to read the Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volatile_variable